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Green Building News

Florida Developer Strikes Deal to Power City with Solar

A salve for Southwest Florida? Plans for Babcock Ranch call for wide-ranging housing mix that includes everything from apartments to luxury single-family homes – more than 19,000 residences in all.
Image Credit: Kitson & Partners

Kitson & Partners and utility company agree to build massive solar plant to supply electricity to planned mixed-use development

News coverage of the real estate market in Southwest Florida has, in recent months, been about as uniformly predictable (and disappointing) as the NBA standings for the Clippers, Wizards, and Knicks.

But that doesn’t seem to have stopped the green development wheels from turning at Kitson & Partners, the company that a few years ago bought a 91,000-acre preserve called Babcock Ranch (not far from Fort Myers), sold 73,000 acres of it to the state, and then focused its attention on plans to develop the remainder into the City of Babcock Ranch, a Sunshine State mecca that will include 19,000 residences and 6 million sq. ft. of commercial space.

The latest announcement from Kitson, which is billing its project as “a model of conservation,” is that the company struck an agreement with Florida Power & Light to build “the world’s largest solar photovoltaic power plant,” which Kitson says will make Babcock Ranch the world’s first city powered by solar energy.

Construction of the FPL solar plant, which is subject to approval by the state, is expected to begin late this year, Kitson says, with construction of the city center targeted for mid-2010, and construction of the first residential and commercial buildings targeted for late 2010.

Once the FPL plant is built, the developer says, its operation alone will create 20,000 permanent jobs.

Kitson adds that its housing is being designed to accommodate “smart home” systems that will allow residents to automate their heating, cooling, lighting, and window coverings, and track their electricity and water usage in real time.

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